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2022 Carl G. Hempel Lecture 2: “The Lure of Illusion”

Michael Martin, University of Oxford

April 21, 2022 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 002 Robertson Hall and Zoom

Department of Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy is pleased to present the second of three lectures in our 2022 Carl G. Hempel Lecture series. This year’s series, entitled “Uncovering Appearances,” will be presented by Michael Martin, Wilde Professor of Mental Philosophy at the University of Oxford.


What is wrong, what is evenly faintly surprising, in the idea of a stick’s being straight but looking bent sometimes? Does anyone suppose that if something is straight, then it jolly well has to look straight at all times and in all circumstances? Obviously, no one seriously supposes this. (JL Austin, “Sense & Sensibilia,” p.29)

Myles Burnyeat suggested many years ago in ‘Conflicting Appearances’ that the attraction of the argument from illusion across history turned on an inexplicit commitment to what he called, ‘the window model’ of sense perception. Burnyeat’s paper preceded the recent rise of intentional theories of perception. In this talk, I’ll ask the question whether Burnyeat’s diagnosis applies to recent attempts to argue for such theories from the possibility of illusion.

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